Indie Comics Spotlight: No Tomorrow, Hero Bear and the Kid, Zombie Tramp
by Stephen Janes (@stephenkjanes)
No Tomorrow #1
“I’m scared mommy.”
Death is unavoidable. It has a way of seeking you out and no one is immune to it. Still though, you have to admit the human insistence to everything in its power to stave it off. What do you do when Death decides to bring down the world around you to complete its goal? You get a book like No Tomorrow #1 from Zenescope Entertainment. The first issue is written by Raven Gregory, with pencils by JG Miranda, colored by Liezl Buenaventura and lettered by Jim Campbell.
Patrick’s life is about to change: he’s turning 40. Despite the “over the hill” nature of the birthday, he’s got a loving wife and kids, high-powered job and also happens to be seeing things. Both while watching coverage of a devastating earthquake in Denver and at his office, there’s a mysterious woman looming in the background. Turns out, she’s a lot more involved than even Patrick realizes, only he doesn’t quite understand the depth of her involvement in disaster.
Gregory’s first issue is a little slow on the plot, but it makes up for it in pacing. Featured in the issue are two catastrophic events, with a woman who is likely Death present for both. The question of whether or not she’s actually responsible for the events remain to be seen and could make for some really interesting fate/free will scenarios in the next few issues of the mini-series. Gregory infuses the work with a Final Destination feel, as you’re on edge waiting for the next major death event to happen. Fortunately, he keeps it relatively fresh, offering a mini-swerve in the first few pages to keep you paying attention.
Miranda’s art is understated and effective. There are some facial expressions that are a little odd (like Patrick licking frosting that looks kind of creepy), but overall they succeed at conveying the emotions tied to the horrific tragedies. Death goes between the traditional black robes and scythe and a business power suit, channeling Christina Hendricks in appearance. There are some two-page spreads of all the mayhem, but Miranda doesn’t really focus too much on the details of the debris.
You can’t beat the Reaper. Especially not when the Reaper is leveling buildings and the landscape to ensure the target is, well, dead. No Tomorrow #1 is shaping up to be a mini-series with a man trying to avoid death once he’s actually convinced himself that it may be coming for him. The more interesting scenario would be if Death was actually trying to save him instead, but that’s what the next four issues are for.
No Tomorrow #1 hits stores August 28.
Hero Bear and the Kid #1 – The Inheritance
Calvin had Hobbes. Ren had Stimpy. Pinky had the Brain. And Tyler has Hero Bear? That’s right kids. The classic tale from way back when is being revisited by KaBOOM! in Hero Bear and the Kid #1 – The Inheritance. The issue is written and illustrated by Mike Kunkel.
After his grandfather passes away, 10-year-old Tyler inherits an old stuffed toy bear and a broken pocket watch. If dealing with bullies wasn’t enough, he soon learns that things aren’t always what they seem…and that you shouldn’t judge a bear by its cover. Join Tyler as he goes on his amazing childhood adventure and learns the truth about his family.
Death in the family is never easy for anyone to handle, but it does have a profound way of changing the life of the survivors. This is a sense that Kunkel taps into extremely well, offering up a world for Tyler that’s void of his grandfather and replaced by the aforementioned bear and pocket watch. What sets the work apart though is how often the pendulum swings between somber emotions and more lighthearted hijinks. The wake serves as a precursor to the surrealism of Tyler going to school and dealing with bullies. He suffers a beating at their hands, the severity of which is exacerbated by the reader knowing that Tyler has already lost a family member.
A somber story works best with equally somber art and Kunkel draws heavily on blacks and whites. Artwork is primarily sketches, with heavy outlines littering the pages. His work is influenced by a cartoon animation style and it really helps the characters showcase the emotion on the page that much better. Color makes an appearance towards the end as a means of introducing a new character, one who demands the full attention of the reader. It’s a truly effective art style that eschews typical panel layouts in the interest of offering readers a better view of the story.
Hero Bear and the Kid #1 – The Inheritance is a book that has an appeal to all ages. For adults, it taps into a nostalgic remembrance of days past, experiencing the seasons and dealing with loss. It offers kids something to relate to in that it shows the trials and tribulations of being a kid: dealing with bullies and the embarrassment of caring parents. Where the two coincide is an intersection of love and hope, both emotions showcased quite beautifully in Kunkel’s writing and art styles. It’s a great book that is a really fun read.
Hero Bear and the Kid #1 – The Inheritance is available now
Zombie Tramp #1
“Hey lover boy. How bout a kiss?”
Zombies are good at two things: causing mayhem and eating people. It’s just about everyday that the two objectives intersect and that’s really all they need to do. Sometimes, zombies need a little more motivation to get into the world and that motivation makes for interesting reading in Zombie Tramp #1 from Action Lab Entertainment. The first issue is written and illustrated by Dan Mendoza with letters by Zen.
The solicit for the work advertises Janey Belle as Hollywood’s hottest, high-priced call girl. That is, until a zombie bit her, consequently turning her in a zombie as well, all at the expense of her looks. Now, she roams the halls of Georges Brothel as part of a legend. Things are going swimmingly for her as far as zombies go, but her routine is interrupted by a unique offer from a young girl named Morning.
As far as origin stories go, Mendoza has definitely offered up quite a unique tale in Zombie Tramp #1. Janey Belle is perfectly content to channel her anger at being dead into ripping apart curious wanderers. What’s more is the premise behind the series seems plausible enough, with Janey’s motivation to help Morning anchored by her desire to look beautiful again. The issue does lack something of an explanation as to why Janey is the only zombie around. What’s more, little is made of the original zombie who turned her.
It’s easy to see how the work would devolve into another post-apocalyptic book if more zombies were present and it’s clear that Mendoza wasn’t going for such a world. Another drawback of the book is that it’s plagued with typos. It’s possible that the copy reviewed was just an early copy, but someone could stand to go back over it all and look for all the grammatical errors in the book, primarily surrounding punctuation. Outside of those two issues, the story itself is pretty humorous in tone and doesn’t take itself too seriously.
Mendoza’s art is where the issue excels. It’s got a mature cartoon feel to it, illustrated primarily in black and white. There are splashes of color to emphasize certain events in the book. While the bulk of these accent colors are red for the blood, there are other small pops that really help the look. The art pulls no punches in its sex and gore though, with Janey a curl of hair away from being topless and arms joining limbs in mid-air. Endowing Janey as physically as Mendoza does could give pause to some readers, but it makes sense considering her previous role.
Zombie Tramp #1 is a book that targets a unique audience. If you’re a fan of zombie books, this is definitely worth a look. If you’re into books that are very tongue in cheek and can handle some sex and gore, this is a book that you should add to your list. It’s not for everyone though, so keep that in mind going in. Having said that, the story is intriguing enough that it warrants reading the second issue, but the issue could stand another edit or two.
Zombie Tramp #1 should be available soon under the order code AUG13 0916.